Welcome to the first, and possibly last, Roast Dinners in London Awards.
I predict that there will be a major Coronavirus outbreak this year and that Dominic Cummings will lie about predicting this in advance on his blog.
Back at the end of 2018, I did start writing some awards but the next thing I knew, it was April and I just wrote a “10 Best Roast Dinners in London” post instead, and then proceeded to invalidate it by visiting Blacklock.
I’m a little more organised this time – sure I didn’t manage to get it out in time for Christmas and maybe you see things with the numbers “2019” in them and immediately want to forget that year ever happened.
I’ve had 47 Sunday roasts during 2019 in London, and some of them I feel deserve that bit of extra love, in a non-sexual kinda way. Because there is nothing sexual about a Sunday roast. Hang on, I’m just going to check Pornhub…
And in a similar way to the new snowflake sports day, a lot of venues get an award. Though there are a few that might not be so grateful. Oh I just found someone pleasuring himself with a roast beef sandwich.
Where shall we start? Oh I know, let’s start in the toilet.
I had very high expectations for Coal Rooms in Peckham – which whilst a very good roast they didn’t quite excel as much as I hoped.
However the one area that did leave an impression were these listed toilets – worth a visit alone. Plus the roast did get an 8.01 out of 10 – it was my 8th best roast of 2019.
Notable runner-up was Little Blue Door in Fulham – more on them later.
Winner of worst toilet award goes to The Ivy House in Nunhead.
It’s a pub with a great history, some gorgeous old features, an OK roast, a cute garden, good beers – but notably minging toilets, like I’d just stepped out of a working men’s club in Barnsley from 1963.
Don’t worry, they do get a bit more related to roast dinners.
I know that you are desperate for me to get onto the best carrot award, but there are a few build-up awards to get through first.
There is only one contender for this award, which is the totally wonderful, Little Blue Door in Fulham.
Everything from the front door, through to each of the unique rooms in the flatmate’s abode and especially the pornographic images in the toilets – this was a joy to the eyes from start to end.
Most Uncomfortable Dining
I could do an award for worst decor, but there are so many pubs with the same old bland teensies/tensies/whatever-the-last-decade-was grey/blue painted walls with random shit attached to make them look quirky, that I’d never be able to decide a “winner”.
Instead, I’m awarding the “Most Uncomfortable Dining” award to The Mall Tavern in Notting Hill.
Boiling hot, tiny stools that seem like they are about to break, little elbow room, nowhere to put my wet coat. And they charged £2 for extra gravy.
Shame – as the roast dinner is worth going on your to-do list – gorgeous beef, sexy gravy. You cannot have everything in life – I still haven’t exposed myself on this blog.
Time to crank up the moaning another notch. How have I not mentioned Brexit yet?
Mostly I don’t notice music when I’m eating a roast – normally it is inoffensive – but the mixture of ACDC and cheesy 90’s rnb at The Abbey Tavern particularly grated my minimal-techno self.
How Much For A Fucking Beer Award
Yes, I’m reviewing roast dinners in London and my taste in beer isn’t exactly Carlsberg. So due to both factors, there are many contenders.
However, £6.65 for a craft API at The Anglesea Arms recently was eye-catching – ever closer to that £7 mark.
Do you remember saying that you’d stop drinking when it reached £5 a pint? It will reach £7 widely in 2020 – thanks to those evil Tories putting the minimum wage up.
Chill out, best carrot award is almost here.
Most Overpriced Roast Dinner
I don’t mind paying good money for a good roast dinner – one of the highest scoring roast dinners this year was Skew’d Kitchen in Cockfosters – and my most expensive at £23.90.
I paid £20 or more 9 times in 2019 – and only 3 times in the years before. Prices sure are going up, but I’ve also got a new job – so I don’t flinch away from the more expensive ones like I used to.
However, if you are going to charge over £20 for a roast dinner, than I am going to hold you to a higher standard.
Percy & Founders in Fitzrovia, along with The Orange in Belgravia both served disappointing roast dinners at £23.00.
Topping this though was The Narrow in Limehouse.
Rubbish lamb, watery gravy – and all under the banner of a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Carrots were great – but this does not excuse charging me £23.00. Plus service charge.
Drunk Auntie Decor Award
Remember what I said earlier about there being too many places to choose from when it comes to poor decor?
I just remembered Treehouse in Croydon.
Those sofas. And the roast dinner was even more tragic.
How Long Are We Waiting?
I’d prefer to wait a little while for my roast dinner – getting a roast 5 minutes after being seated is a sure sign that there was a microwave involved.
However, we’d just driven from Devon to The Marlborough in Richmond to be greeted by a staff member advising that there was a 1.5 hour wait for food – despite us having booked a table in advance.
Apparently they weren’t expecting it to be so sunny and warm that weekend so didn’t have enough staff – oh for the existence of weather forecasts.
No, the roast dinner was not worth waiting for.
Speaking of waiting – time for the award you’ve been waiting for all this time.
I know that this award is the one that you are most keen on knowing, and not an easy one to choose – I’ve eaten 47 roast dinners and probably had 46 different servings of carrots to review.
On another year, Blacklock would have won by a long way – with beautifully charred carrots. So good that I wrote, “in the running for carrot of the year on the off-chance that I can actually be bothered to do my awards come Christmas (though there are two other strong contenders)”.
And I am actually writing the awards! Though who was the other strong contender that I refer to?
The award of Best Carrot goes to Little Blue Door in Fulham. Skin-on, whole roasted carrots – roasted in what we believe was orange jus. These were sensational.
Best Pureed Vegetable
I thought the idea of “best pureed vegetable” was an oxymoron, and hadn’t even considered that puree should even be food for anyone with pubic hair, let alone that there should be an award for it.
Smoked parsnip puree at Madame Pigg was just simply divine.
I doubt there will be a similar award at the end of 2020.
Best Cauliflower Cheese
My final plant-based award also goes to Madame Pigg.
It’s another award that I came very, very close to awarding to Blacklock, and I’m sure I have forgotten other very deserving cauliflower cheeses (though there are plenty I’d like to forget), however this charred cauliflower cheese with Black Bomber Cheddar on top (a new sensation) – with truffle, was just the best ever.
At least the best that I can remember anyway.
Don’t worry, Blacklock gets an award. This is for best service.
I don’t think I’m being unfair in expecting good service when you pay a 12.5% service charge – I want something more than my meal to arrive and my plate to be cleared, just so the venue can do some tax avoidance.
Occasionally that happens, and then once a year service is so outstanding that I wish I was allowed to pay more than 12.5%.
Blacklock actually made a couple of errors in forgetting to bring drinks, etc, but this was more than made up by the affinity that the main waiter (and others) built with us at the table. Allowing me to have the meat feast for just one person because I had a birthday in January (4 months earlier), bringing us extra roast potatoes, bringing us a sample of dessert even though we were stuffed.
We were truly looked after – I’ve only once had better service in London. Kudos also to Madame Pigg – who would have won in a non-Blacklock year.
Blacklock may be in contention for other awards as we go on too. Yeah, I’m only halfway. Fuck my life and fuck yours too.
Tattershall Castle was the roast dinner after Blacklock. And couldn’t be more of a contrast, with a rather dire roast.
However, as it was on a boat on the River Thames, we got to admire the river. And all the boats passing by.
Tattershall Castle was the roast dinner after Blacklock. And couldn’t be more of a contrast, with a rather dire roast.
However, as it was on a boat on the River Thames, we got to admire the river. And all the shit in it. Sort yourselves out London – STOP DROPPING LITTER.
Strangest Thing On A Roast
Nothing especially strange happened this year – most chefs seem to keep their roast dinner creativity for trying to make weird-tasting gravy.
However, one thing that perturbed a few of you was the appearance of cherry tomatoes at Mr Fogg’s Tavern.
Despite normally voting Conservative (except this time), I am not a Nazi, and I tentatively appreciate a little ingenuity on a roast dinner – for me these gorgeous cherry tomatoes might have been the strangest thing on a roast this year, but it was a winner.
This was a really close call, however the award goes to The Grocer in Spitalfields for giving us all child-sized plates.
This made it exceptionally difficult to cut my chicken – my experience was one of Tetris-like moving of pieces to be able to eat. Not fun.
Special mention to the very close runner-up, The Hoxton in Holborn for putting a roast dinner in a tin.
Wetherspoons once provided a roast dinner to me on an exquisite plate.
Thankfully Madame Pigg’s roast dinner was at the other end of quality – to match the plate, albeit just a side-plate. Though I’m sure some places would attempt to put a whole roast dinner on that.
How sexy is that plate? It is possible that I’ve fallen in love with more plates this year than waitresses. That’ll be Brexit.
Had I been a good 10 (or 20) years younger, I probably would have fallen in love with the charming waitresses at Madame Pigg. My sister does seem to have a thing for the chef too.
This cute little restaurant had so much going for it in terms of charm – good music, a real welcoming feel. This all helped to provide what felt like the best atmosphere at a roast dinner in 2019 – though the beer certainly helped too.
I was tempted to give this to Paternoster Chop House for not showing the Cricket World Cup Final in the summer – despite having a TV.
However this can go to The Hand In Hand in Wimbledon. It would have been just a cosy pub with a shit roast dinner, but just as our food eventually turned up, the fire alarm went off. For a while.
I’ve been writing these awards so long that I feel like I’m cracking up…just 10 or so more to go. Whose fucking idea was it to change year?
Am I really doing an award for best crackling? Yeah…someone actually asked me once where did the best crackling in London, but I didn’t have an answer at the time.
I do now. The Gun in Docklands, a damn fine establishment right on the River Thames provided some crispy and non-chewy crackling on the pork belly that was almost perfect.
One of the best roast dinners of 2019 too – though not quite up there with the best.
Something I’m sure you wish for me at times, especially if you are a chef and have cooked me a roast dinner.
Not exactly overburdened with competition for this category, this was a large ball of proper stuffing – ie sage and thyme. No apricot, no cherry, no lime, no fucking tangerine.
Are these awards living up to your expectations? Oh yeah, this was Oslo in Hackney.
Well Above Expectations
I’m about to get into the ones that you most care about – or should most care about. First, an award for the venue that far exceeded expectations.
I’d been to Osteria Wolf on a Saturday so I knew that it was a very good restaurant. But it was an Italian restaurant – surely they wouldn’t do a really good roast dinner?
Smooth carrots, elegant broccoli, roast potatoes that were better than most English pubs, proper gravy and a plateful of flavoursome porchetta.
I’m surprised that none of my readers have been – or at least haven’t told me.
The Gipsy Queen in Kentish Town and Skew’d Kitchen in Cockfosters both very solid runners-up in this category.
Well Below Expectations
There are plenty of places where I have mild expectations and they are not met. Then there are a few places where I have high expectations and they disappoint – seriously.
After a successful People’s Roast Vote in 2018, I again asked the great (ish) Twitter public to vote on where I should go in 2019. The winner of the People’s Roast Vote this year was The Hand In Hand in Wimbledon.
Tough and terrible roasties, water that had a hint of gravy at most, and utterly dire pork – massively overcooked and dry.
Runner-up was Eat Lagom @ Hackney Church Brew Co – my 100th roast dinner and a total disappointment. It gets its own award. Next.
The North Sea Award
Eat Lagom @ Hackney Church Brew Co was my 100th roast dinner. It could and probably should have been one of the best, yet it had so much salt that it tasted as if it had been cooked in the North Sea.
I was almost crying when I wrote this – I hate giving bad reviews to independents, especially when I know they can do so, so much better.
Do try eating there – but have a roast at your own risk. For us, it was just so exceptionally and almost inedibly salty.
Best Yorkshire Pudding
This was another win for Little Blue Door in Fulham – a venue that charmed and a roast dinner that really excelled.
For this award, the Yorkshire pudding was perfect and probably the best I’ve had in London. Fluffy on the bottom, crispy on the edges – the perfect balance throughout.
Not a sign of a minute under a heat lamp. A freshly-cooked Yorkshire pudding.
Worst Yorkshire Pudding
In any other year Skew’d Kitchen would have won for their hilariously shite air hockey puck which tasted like extra-greasy fried bread.
“Normal Yorkshire pudds? Boring. We do them our own way – tweaked, twisted and tastier“. Yeah…
That this can be beaten is quite an achievement, but The Chelsea Pig succeeded. Visibly resembling a cow pat, it tasted like stale, burnt, over-floured pizza dough. It was tough to cut and felt like it had been left in a cardboard box on top of the fridge for the last week. I regurgitated my words from the blog post as I cannot beat that.
Best Roast Potato
Nearing the end at last – you might have been reading this a long time but I’ve been writing it for nearly 8 hours (amongst other things). Though I doubt you made it this far.
There is an argument for Blacklock winning this and there is an even better argument for Madame Pigg winning this.
However, the roast potatoes that most impressed – those that almost melted in my mouth with their perfect fluffiness and crumb-crisp coating were the roast potatoes at Coal Rooms in Peckham. That place is worth going just for the smell of the food – let alone the roast potatoes.
Worst Roast Potato
How the fuck do I choose this award?
There were so many examples of crap roast potatoes in 2019 that I almost got to the point of wanting mashed potato instead. Almost.
One place really stood out and that was Treehouse in Croydon. Seeming like they had been cooked in a previous century, let alone decade, all rubbery and chewy and just utterly miserable.
Props to Paternoster Chop House and The Ship in Wandsworth – in fact almost every Young’s pub, for being memorably dreadful in a sea of dross.
Onto the meat at last – a bit like when I eat a roast dinner, leaving the most imporant part to last. Yet sometimes the meat can be the worst bit.
Step forward The Hand In Hand in Wimbledon for another award – massively overcooked, dry pork that had possibly been mistaken for leftovers in the cupboard from the week before.
It was exceptionally hard work to cut the meat – something my hangover really didn’t appreciate. Oh – another Young’s pub. Did I mention that Young’s unfollowed me on Twitter? Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Brexit hasn’t even happened yet, yet some pubs and restaurants are acting like they need to implement rations. Either that or they see how overweight I am and are trying to ensure I’m sexier next time I visit Spain.
The winner was The Greyhound in Kew – a place recommended to me on a couple of occasions, but not somewhere I could recommend at that tiny a portion of pork belly.
The waiter had even asked me how I wanted it cooked – apparently I said dry and burnt. With meat this bad, maybe Brexit rations will be wonderful after all.
Plenty of places I could have chosen for this – Madame Pigg being an obvious one, Eat Lagom was sensational meat if you could get over the over-burdening of salt. Gipsy Queen and The Mall Tavern both did excellent rib-eye beef.
So I’m going to throw a bit of a curveball here and offer the award to Black Star Kitchen at The Star by Hackney Downs.
For the beef was sensationally smoked – flavour that I rarely experience from simple old rump cap of beef. This was quite an achievement – though otherwise the roast was just kind of fine.
Another award with no shortage of potential winners – so many places serving watery nonsense where it seems like the chef keeps adding water as more roast dinners get sold.
However I’m normally more offended by jus, and particularly attempts at red wine jus, which often end up tasting burnt.
Tasting somewhere between red cabbage and burnt red wine, this semi-sickly jus detracted from the whole meal, of which wasn’t exactly a classic itself.
Balham Bowls Club claim to serve award winning roasts – and congratulations, you won the award for worst gravy in 2019.
If I had gravy like the gravy that Blacklock serve every week – or hell, even just every month, then I would have no need to watch lesbian videos on Pornhub – all my sexual desires would be fulfilled.
Yet I’m not giving them the award. Heresy! Clutch in Shoreditch were also worthy contenders, however winning yet another award is The Little Blue Door in Fulham.
The gravy was fucking amazing. Proper thick gravy – and for my birthday roast dinner too.
A little unusual, it was a white wine gravy – creamy, herby and just ever-so-massively fucking sexual. Enough to make me consider taking up yoga so I would be flexible enough to be able to lick it from my nipples. That good.
Just two more awards. Have you actually made it this far?
Worst Roast Dinner in London 2019
Treehouse in Croydon.
I don’t want to talk about it.
Good plate though.
Best Roast Dinner in London 2019
You could write this yourself. Assuming you have had a roast dinner here and if you haven’t then why are you even bothering to read my blog in the first place? It doubt it is for my political commentary, probably not because I make you horny and definitely not for my specious attempts at being witty. Maybe I’ll forgive you if you don’t live in London – as long as you book it when you next visit London.
In Shoreditch wins best roast dinner in the Roast Dinners In London Awards 2019. No other roast dinner has been this consistent. Some places served sexier meat, one place served better gravy, a few places served more memorable vegetables. Yet all those places got some things wrong – and Blacklock was very good at its worst – every single thing about the experience was between very good and almost perfect.
Awesome service, a huge amount of food, divine cauliflower cheese, random freebies, sexy gravy. I’d go every Sunday if I didn’t have this fucking blog. It wasn’t perfect and it could be beaten in future years, though quite possibly only by visiting Blacklock in Soho.
If you haven’t been then, well, sort your life out.
Biggest Tosser Award
Yeah I’m going to ask you to share this.
Seriously, I put fuckloads of effort into this blog – and way more effort into these awards than I planned. No wonder I didn’t bother writing any for 2018 or 2017. And no wonder I’m fat and single.
Just a tiny retweet, or maybe a link to it in your church newsletter. Send it to your mum, your drug dealer, your local MP, Dominic Cummings (he’s looking for weird people) – whoever you think deserves to waste their time reading this bilge. It is Dry January, after all, people are miserable and it might cheer them up to see what a sad bastard I am.
Finally, I’d like to thank Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage, Anna Soubry, Theresa May and all the Spanish lesbians on Pornhub for your inspiration. I couldn’t do it without you. Oh and my readers too.
Where now, sailor?
Random roast review: The Elgin, Maida Vale